Improved thermoplastic composite by alignment of vapor grown carbon fiber

by Kuriger, Rex J.

Abstract (Summary)
Vapor grown carbon fiber (VGCF) is a new and inexpensive carbon fiber produced by vapor deposition of hydrocarbons on metal catalysts. Unlike continuous conventional PAN or pitch-derived carbon fibers, VGCF is discontinuous with diameters of about 200 nanometers and lengths ranging from 10 to 200 micrometers. The microscopic size and random entanglement of the fibers create several problems when processing VGCF composites. It is particularly difficult to disperse the entangled fibers in the matrix and orient them along a preferred axis to provide directional reinforcement. This work introduces a technique to produce an improved polymene composite by alignment of vapor grown carbon nano-fibers in a polypropylene matrix. A twin-screw extruder was used to shear mix and disperse the fibers in the polymer matrix. The composite mixtures were extruded through a converging-annular die that generates flow-induced fiber alignment along the extrusion direction. The effect that the various extrusion conditions have on the bulk properties of the extrudate was investigated. It was found that the extrusion process is strongly dependent on the fiber content of the composite. The extrusion pressure increased and the flow rate decreased with fiber volume fraction. The tensile strength and modulus for the composite samples varied with extrusion temperature and screw speed, and the void content increased with fiber volume fraction. It was shown that fiber alignment could be improved by increasing the residence time in the die channel and was verified using x-ray diffraction. The mechanical properties of the aligned samples increased with fiber content. Also, the tensile strength improved with greater fiber orientation; however, more fiber alignment had little affect on the modulus. To better predict the strength of these partially aligned fiber composites, an experimental and theoretical approach was introduced. The experimental data correspond reasonably well when compared with the theoretical model. The thermal diffusivity and electrical resistivity in both the longitudinal and transverse directions of the test samples were evaluated. The density and specific heat were also determined and used to calculate the thermal conductivity. Analysis of the composite materials showed that the thermal and electrical transport properties of polypropylene were greatly improved by the addition of VGCF.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Ohio University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:thermoplastic composite alignment vapor grown carbon fiber


Date of Publication:01/01/2000

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